Rental and Utility Assistance

March 15, 2021

CERA: (COVID Emergency Rental Assistance Program)


The State of Michigan’s COVID Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“the Program”) is designed to keep Michigan residents who fell behind on their rent and utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic in their homes. The program utilizes a collaborative community process to expedite rental and utility assistance to COVID-19 affected tenants and their landlords.


Assistance available is rental arrearages and utility arrearages including internet.

There does not need to be rental arrearages in order to receive assistance for utilities

Must be a renter.  Homeowners do not qualify.



  • Tenant household income must be no more than 80% of Area Median
  • One or more individual in the household currently or at some point after March 13, 2020, to qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income or incurred significant costs or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the corona virus outbreak, and
  • The household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability which may include a: past due utility notice or past due rent notice (including a ledger showing rent arrears or a Notice to Quit) or an eviction notice



  • Rental assistance does not need to be provided to assist with utility, energy, or internet costs.
  • Landlords and owners may apply on behalf of tenants meeting the eligibility requirements, so long as: o the tenant cosigns the application and provides required documentation to the landlord to be included with the application, o the landlord provides information on the rental assistance payment to the tenant and o the payments are used to satisfy the tenant’s rental obligation to the owner.
  • Rental, utility, and internet assistance can only be paid for amounts due on or after March 13, 2020.
  • Tenants will only be eligible to participate in the CERA program one time unless there are insufficient applications to fully spend down the funding.
  • SER applications are not required to qualify for Program assistance. o SER applications are encouraged for households that are below 50% of AMI and have rental arrearages that exceed program limits.
  • College students are eligible for Program assistance so long as they are named on the lease.



  • Generally, the HARA will be the first point of contact for the tenant. The tenant’s first contact may also be with legal aid or a court, which should refer the client to the HARA.
  • Landlord and tenant applications will be completed.
  • The HARA will collect the required documentation to determine eligibility.
  • Every tenant with a court case should be evaluated for Legal Services. This should be relayed to the tenant as part of the Program process.
  • Tenants without court cases may still be evaluated for Legal Services if the HARA believes there are any significant repair issues with the housing, or disagreements between tenant and landlord about terms of the lease or amount owed. This should be relayed to the tenant as part of the assistance process.
  • The HARA and Legal Services (if involved in the case) will work with the Court and the landlord on the proposed resolution.
  • The resolution will be documented either in a Conditional Dismissal Order (through the court) or Settlement Statement (pre-court cases).


Call Gogebic- Ontonagon Community Action at 906-667-0283 ext 18 or 30 for more information